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Shame Grows in the Dark

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Shame Grows in the Dark

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Shame Grows in the Dark

I’ve been training and practicing in Transactional Analysis (TA) for over six years alongside being a professionally certified Coach. TA is a psychology which tells us that, at a very young age, we make decisions based on the meaning we make from what happens around us. From this we form a narrative and adjust our way of being in our world to manage the perceptions we experience through that narrative we built.

This removes us a little from a direct link between what happens around us and to us and the impact of this on our worlds. This is important because this distinction offers us an opportunity to take responsibility for what we experience and what we feel, think and do as a result.

We build shame into our narrative when we are small too.

Brene Brown says “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”. Shame grows in secrecy, in the dark corners of us as we submerge into learning to cover up our truest selves and our truest way of being in the world.

Abusers smell out the shame in us and they use it to make sure they get to play out their narrative too, like a lever for access. Just as someone carrying deepest shame about their lovability and right to belong will regularly seek evidence that this is the case, that their beliefs are true, so will abusers. An abuser is likely to have a narrative centered in life not being fair for them, the people they are likely to target being more important and potent than they are and needing to be ‘taken down a peg or two’. They will persecute from a victim (‘poor me’) stance. They will seek rescue or persecution in doing so.

The means of being systematically devalued, of being confirmed as shameful, or being invited to participate in an abusive relationship will mirror the early part of our lives when we made the decision that we are not loveable, not enough and that we don’t have the right or welcome to belong.

We repeat what we don’t repair.

Our abusers are repeating unrepaired wounds also.

I invite you to consider what attracted you to your abuser by answering these questions today. The process you enter in considering and answering these will help you to step back from what happened (or is happening) and look at it from a helpful distance. Your answers to these questions will start to let in the light:

● What thoughts and feelings did you have about them as you were falling into the relationship?
● How did these relate to your younger life?
● What beliefs about yourself did you manage to confirm at this stage?
● At what point did you decide to allow the abuse to continue?
● How did your abuser feed your shame?
● What would you think, feel or do differently if you could go back with more options available to you?

I want to remind you that you always have options, that there is help out there for you, that you are not alone.

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I am an ex Social Worker, a qualified and professionally credentialed personal and business Coach and I am extensively trained and experienced in Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy. I am successful, happy, grounded and I choose my life with intention and autonomy.
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By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

“Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”